Final sea trials – and the Solent at its best

This weekend, in excellent weather, I was able to sail Spellbinder in the Solent, and do some final sea trials and checks before we lift her out in a week’s time for some final jobs ashore. Our scheduled departure remains mid-July.  I had on board Alan, my future crew for the Atlantic crossing, Kyaw and Bethan who were coming along to gain experience (Kyaw was freshly back from his own Atlantic adventure from Puerto Rico to the Azores), and Will and Alice.  Will was on board researching an article for Yachting Monthly on wind vanes, and came along to see Spellbinder’s Hydrovane. With a bit of luck Spellbinder will feature in an article in the months to come.

Alan and I went across to Bembridge for Friday night to join our friends Peter and Anabel and their crew on Sea Jester.  It was a beautiful evening and we just motored across and enjoyed supper and drinks while moored alongside each other.  After an early departure we headed back to Gosport to pick up Kyaw and Bethan and headed with the tide down to Alum Bay for lunch, anchored close to the cliffs not far from the Needles.  We had managed the Parasailor as far as Cowes, but the wind then died.


A rare sight in the Solent.  Kyaw looks happy about it!


We found it flew with 7 knots or more.

After lunch we headed to Lymington where we picked up Will and Alice.  There wasn’t much wind about but we managed to get the Hydrovane working and showing its stuff.  The aim was to anchor at Newtown creek and have a BBQ, joining others from the ASA.  Despite the good weather we found plenty of room to anchor, close to the entrance.


Anchored, looking out of Newtown Creek.  Alan showing Kyaw and Alice the ropes…

It was a beautiful evening, and we pumped up the dinghy, deployed the electric outboard (Will had a good play) and thanks to Alan’s shopping we had an excellent BBQ in great company, watching the sun go down and then drinking and talking around the fire.  It felt very special, and reminded me quite how Newtown is the most unspoilt and beautiful place in the Solent.  The pictures tell the story.



alan 1

alan 2




The following morning we had breakfast at anchor, before sailing down to the Needles and around the south coast of the Isle of Wight, anchoring in Freshwater Bay.  I had never anchored there but with an easterly airflow it was quiet enough, and a pleasant place for lunch.

As the tide turned we headed back to the Needles, deploying the furling gennaker (it had recently been in for repair after a ripping incident…) to check that all was ok, before tacking back through Hurst Narrows to land Will and Alice back at Lymington.  The wind did get up in the afternoon, but from exactly the direction we wanted to go (oh how often that happens) so we motored back to Gosport before saying goodbye to Kyaw and Bethan. It was a great fun weekend.


Furling gennaker repaired and ready to go


Bethan learning that although Spellbinder is a civilised yacht, and coffee beans are ground routinely, it is a job for the crew, not the skipper…


Spellbinder is due to be lifted out at Hornet next Monday and is lifted back on 2nd July. Jobs include some routine maintenance to the Gori folding prop, a wash down, and the installation of a new calorifier as the old one is leaking and at the end of its shelf life. Once back in the water, all we will need to do is fill her with fuel, water, food and drink…and hope that the jet stream stays high, and the winds in the north or east…

4 thoughts on “Final sea trials – and the Solent at its best

  1. Hi Nick !
    De mon côté, nous étions à Lisbonne le week-end du 1er juillet pour caréner Syrakko et mettre la pression sur le mécanicien : le moteur n’est toujours pas remonté (peut-être à la fin de la semaine…).
    Nous retournons sur le voilier dimanche 15 juillet pour 15 jours, avec pour destination le Sud du Portugal. Nous naviguerons une dernière semaine fin août à destination du Maroc pour l’hivernage. Je ne sais pas encore très bien où…
    Bises à Sue, bon vent et bonne mer vers Madère !


    1. J’espère que ton moteur sera bientôt installé Nico. Je pars lundi directement pour Madère – il me semble qu’on aura du vent, mais pas trop pour la traversée du Golfe de Gascogne. Si on a un souci on fera escale à Lisbonne…suis moi sur Marine Traffic. Bonne mer à toi mon ami.


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